Tallinn, Stenbock House, 23 March 2020 – The websites of several government agencies now have Suve, an automated chatbot which provides answers to frequently asked questions about the emergency situation and the coronavirus. The chatbot provides answers to questions in Estonian and English and uses information from the official sources of government agencies.
According to Marten Kaevats, Adviser of the Strategy Unit of the Government Office, correct and up-to-date information is of critical importance in the current emergency situation. “The chatbot offers a new way to get information on changes that affect us all in terms of life-planning and also helps to relieve the burden on different hotlines. Suve the chatbot can still be compared to a young puppy who is yet to learn all the tricks, but dozens of volunteers are working to improve it,” said Kaevats.
The idea to create Suve came about thanks to Hack the Crisis, a hackaton organised by the Estonian startup community, Garage 48, and Accelerate Estonia.
“The idea of a nationwide chatbot service circulated even before the crisis, but the hackathon enabled us to quickly put the idea into action, and hopefully, it will reduce the burden on hotlines,” said Michaela Snopková, one of the creators of Suve. As a consultant to foreign specialists, she has noticed that people often have questions that do not require personal consultation, but rather they need to be directed to the right information. “There is no need to call the family doctor hotline to ask if it is possible to travel to Finland or to get information about the certificate for incapacity to work. Suve will find answers to these questions. This will ensure that those who have symptoms of the coronavirus or some other illness and need prompt and personal counselling could quickly reach a doctor,” said Snopková.
Suve the chatbot has already been added to many websites. Through active use, the chatbot can learn and answer questions more accurately. Thanks to the work contributed by volunteers, the chatbot can soon speak in Russian as well. In addition, Suve collects and transmits unanswered user questions to editors, which helps to develop the chatbot.
All volunteers are welcome to contribute to the development of the chatbot. If you are a data entry clerk, translator, or editor and wish to contribute, please visit https://eebot.ee/en/. The website also provides additional information for institutions and companies that wish to embed the chatbot to their website.
Relevant information about the emergency situation will continue to be available on the emergency situation website of the government at https://www.valitsus.ee/en/emergency-situation-estonia and by calling the emergency hotline 1247.
More than ten volunteers involved in IT, marketing, and advising international specialists on integration, Wize AI, boost.ai, the Estonian Investment Agency and the Work in Estonia programme of Enterprise Estonia, the Government Office, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, and Founderly contributed to the development of Suve the chatbot.
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Head of the eeBot team which developed Suve the chatbot